The 1-5 scale estimates potential property damage from sustained wind speed.
Category 3 or higher is considered a major hurricane.
A hurricane warning states that tropical storm winds of at least 74 mph are expected within 36 hours.
Tropical disturbances: Cloud plumes develop into a group of thunderstorms.
Tropical Depression: Thunderstorms intensify, with maximum sustained winds of 38 mph or less.
Tropical Storm: Maximum wind speed between 39-73 mph. During this time, the storm becomes more circular in shape, with the winds rotating around a calm center, known as the eye. That’s when a storm is named.
Hurricane: Winds reach a maximum sustained wind speed of 74 miles per hour.
Category 1: minimal hurricane
Wind 74-95 mph.
No major damage to buildings. Damage primarily to unattached houses, shrubs and trees.
Some damage to poorly constructed signage and flooding on coastal roads.
Category 2: Medium Hurricane
Winds 96-110 miles per hour.
Stormy gale 6-8 feet.
Some damage to buildings, especially roofs, doors and windows. Severe damage to shrubs and trees. Severe damage to mobile homes. Severe damage to poorly constructed signage and significant damage to sidewalks.
Small crafts in unprotected anchors may break anchors.
Power outages can last from several days to weeks.
Category 3: severe hurricane
Winds 111-130 mph.
Storm gust 9-12 ft.
Some structural damage to small buildings. Many big trees fly. Outbreaks of mobile home destruction in storms rank 3 or higher. Serious coastal flooding or damage or destruction of structures along the waters.
Lowland dwellings within several blocks of the shoreline may need to be evacuated.
Electricity and water may not be available for several days to weeks.
Category 4: severe hurricane
Winds 131-155 mph.
Gale storm 13-18 ft.
Severe damage to buildings. Shrubs, trees and banners flew. Severe damage to the lower floors of buildings near the coast due to flooding, high waves and floating debris. Main beach erosion.
Power outages can last from weeks to months possible. Areas may be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
Category 5: a catastrophic hurricane
Winds greater than 155 mph.
The storm surged to over 18 feet in height.
Complete failure of the roof of many residences and industrial buildings. Extensive destruction of buildings less than 15 feet above sea level within 500 yards of shore. Lower evacuation routes were cut off due to high water 3 to 5 hours before the typhoon’s center arrived.
Lowland residential areas within 5-10 miles of the shoreline may be required to pre-vacate.
Power outages may last for months. The area may remain uninhabitable for several months.
The use of female names for Atlantic storms was the practice until 1979, when male names were added to the mix.